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Local 400 Joins Community, Other Labor Groups at AFL-CIO Citizenship Clinic to Help Those with Greencards Become Citizens

Rosa, a Local 400 organizer, helps a green card holder apply for citizenship.

Rosa, a Local 400 organizer, helps a green card holder apply for citizenship.

On Saturday, June 28th, Local 400 joined other labor and immigration groups and community organizers such as DC Labor and Working America at the AFL-CIO’s international headquarters in Washington, D.C. to put on a workshop that assisted green card-holders in applying for citizenship.

The workshop was designed for workers who are legal permanent residents eligible for citizenship as well as young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as kids who want to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA.  Attendees were given information on how to apply and volunteers and lawyers assisted them as they filled out the correct paperwork.

The event was put on as part of an ongoing effort to move immigration reform forward–legislation for which has been stalled in the House ever since passing in the Senate over a year ago.

Some green card holders don’t apply for citizenship when they become eligible, and may eventually face deportation. But for many,  becoming a citizen means that they can more actively participate in their communities, their union, and their democracy. Citizenship enables immigrants to have a stronger voice, whether its through voting, speaking out for workplace rights, or being able to stand up for a living wage.

The AFL-CIO’s executive vice president Tefere Gebre, a naturalized citizen himself, said the group hopes to educate immigrants about the benefits of being citizens.

 

UFCW President Hansen Statement on One-Year Anniversary of Senate Passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

UFCWnewsWASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the UFCW, today released the following statement regarding the one-year anniversary of Senate passage of comprehensive immigration reform.

“One year ago last week, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation that created a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans and strengthened protections for immigrant workers. The bill, which also included a ‘border surge’ provision that we strongly opposed, was an exercise in compromise. I said at the time that we could not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Senate passage was supposed to kick off the process of fixing our broken immigration system.

“Instead, one year later, it remains the only meaningful step taken toward reform. The inaction of House Republicans on this issue—save for a precious few—is a national embarrassment. The only pieces of legislation that have moved through committee might as well have been drafted at a Tea Party convention. No bills have gone to the House floor. The American people, including most Republicans, support comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, Speaker John Boehner has chosen to put the demands of an extreme minority over the wisdom and compassion of the sensible majority.

“The unfolding humanitarian crisis on the border further highlights the urgent need to fix our broken immigration system and create a clear and fair path to citizenship. Yet some Congressional Republicans are using the plight of immigrant families to call for even stricter enforcement policies. It’s shameful.

“I was pleased that yesterday the President announced his intention to take executive action on immigration. He should move boldly and decisively to stop the deportation of those who would qualify for citizenship under comprehensive immigration reform.

“A year has passed and families are still being torn apart. A year has passed and aspiring Americans are still living in the shadows. A year has passed and immigrant workers are still vulnerable to exploitation. We cannot afford to wait any longer. It is time for our leaders to act—or be replaced by those who will.”

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

Local 400 Joins Effort in Maryland to Launch Education Campaign to Help Workers Stand Up for Legal Wages

Adapted from Local 400

Jacqueline Midence, a fast food industry worker, spoke out about her experience being in the industry for four years and still making minimum wage. Photo by Bill Burke.

Jacqueline Midence, a fast food industry worker, spoke out about her experience being in the industry for four years and still making minimum wage. Photo by Bill Burke.

After a decade of frozen salaries across the country, states are taking initiative, and pulling working families out of poverty by raising wages. However, the laws only benefit constituents when the community is part of putting them into practice and when the public is educated about their rights as workers regardless of immigration status. UFCW Local 400 and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) joined together Monday morning in Maryland with elected officials and community supporters at a local Safeway to kick off a week-long (June 16-20) education campaign aimed at bringing awareness to area employees on the new minimum wage laws, set to take effect Oct. 1, 2014.

“These new laws will provide a vital boost to hundreds of thousands of workers struggling with how to make ends meet,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici. “The Prince George’s and Montgomery county governments did their part to pass the laws, but it’s our job, starting today, to raise awareness to hold employers accountable and prevent wage theft in the future.”

November 2013, Prince George’s County was able to achieve a way overdue victory and set the tone, along with Montgomery County, for minimum wage increase statewide. The first increase to $8.40 per hour will be implemented by October 1, 2014 and steadily increase every year reaching $11.50 per hour by 2017. The implementation of the wage increases in these counties is higher than the state’s minimum wage, which is set to gradually increase to $10.10 by July 2018.

“Jobs should lift workers out of poverty, not trap them in poverty,” said Executive Director of LCLAA Hector E. Sanchez. “While we celebrate this important victory, we recognize that Latino workers suffer more minimum wage and overtime pay violations than any other ethnic group,” That is why we have joined this critical tour to ensure Latinos are not robbed of their hard earned wages. We want to make it clear to employees and employers that paying what the law requires is not negotiable.”

“I’ve worked my entire life, so I know how hard it is to try and make ends meet, especially off minimum wage,” said Jacqueline Midence (pictured), a four-year fast food industry worker. “When you’re supporting your family, every cent helps you survive.”

“The new law will help people like me live better, it will give us more hope for the future.”